BOSTON — The Rays gave the Red Sox an inch. Boston took a mile.
The Red Sox found themselves in a 2-0 hole Friday after Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist smacked a pair of solo homers off Jon Lester. A strange play in the fourth inning opened the door for the Red Soxâ offense, though, and Boston kept its foot on the gas en route to a 12-2 blowout victory in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Matt Moore held the Red Sox hitless through the first three innings, but Dustin Pedroia opened the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff single into center field. What happened next was not only out of the ordinary, but also game-changing.
David Ortiz smacked a fly ball to deep right field. Wil Myers raced back toward the wall and appeared to have it sized up. Strangely, Myers backed off at the last second, and the ball bounced on the warning track and up into the Red Soxâ bullpen for a ground-rule double.
âFrom what I was told there, he kind of saw Desmond [Jennings] coming through the corner of his eye and just backed off,â Rays manager Joe Maddon said. âReally a routine play. It’s not like there’s any problem with communication. He just saw something and backed off. That was it.â
But that wasnât it. The Red Sox ended up scoring five runs in that fourth inning after Myersâ miscue, and Moore couldnât make it out of the fifth inning as Bostonâs offense just kept hammering away.
âI donât know what happened, but one thing Iâve always said with my playoff experience is you play 162 games, a lot of innings, a lot of pitches, a lot of runs,â Jonny Gomes said. âOne thing you can guarantee in the playoffs is youâre going to see something you havenât seen all year. And we saw that right away.â
While Myersâ mishap was certainly unlike any specific play weâve seen this season, the Red Soxâ relentless offensive attack was right in line with what weâve seen all year. The Red Sox sensed an opportunity, and they wasted no time in delivering the knockout blow.
Gomes — as heâs been all season — was the catalyst for Boston jumping ahead following Myersâ weird defensive play. He drilled a double off the left field wall, and then hustled his tail off to score from second base as Stephen Drew beat out a close play at first base for a two-out infield single.
Will Middlebrooks made it 4-2 with a line-drive double off the Green Monster, and Shane Victorino plated Bostonâs fifth run by slapping a single into right field. The Red Sox added three more runs in the fifth inning, tacked on four more in the eighth, and that was all she wrote.
âI think that just says how you see nine hitters, and we all work together,â Gomes said of the Red Soxâ offensive attack. âThe inning we scored, right before me, [Mike] Napoli didnât get it done, but I think he saw seven or eight pitches. With that being said, I donât know if he tired out Matt or what, but from the on-deck circle, I was able to see eight pitches and it allowed me to jump on the first two. Guys that donât drive in runs or donât get the big hits, but I tell you what, we definitely work one through nine. We donât sit back and wait for the three-run homer.â
The Red Sox havenât sat back often this season. That was evident even in the teamâs preparation this week, which included an intrasquad scrimmage Wednesday. Sure, there was some rust in the first three frames Friday, but once the Red Sox shook it off, there was no stopping one of the gameâs most potent offenses.
David Price will take the ball for Tampa Bay in Game 2 on Saturday. If the Rays canât cut out the one big mistake that plagued them Friday, Bostonâs wagon might notÂ decelerate any time soon.